Classic Catalog Hints

Helpful Tips

There are several ways to find a book in the library. Searches default to a Title search. Other options are found in the dropdown menu that says Title on the Search the Catalog page.

  • KEYWORD -searches for your term or terms in the title, author, subject, and notes fields. The library catalog automatically inserts AND between your terms, for ex. California painting
  • TITLE - select this option if you know the title (Default)
  • AUTHOR - use this option when looking for books by a particular author. Remember: last name first, for ex. Miller, Stanley.
  • SUBJECT - use this option when searching for items on a particular topic. Remember: broad term first, for ex. United States--history 
  • HINTS - when searching  Capitalization - Enter a search in either upper or lower case. Punctuation - Apostrophes are ignored, such as O'dell and Odell. All other punctuation marks are treated like space. USA, U.S.A., are treated alike. AND & -- Get the same results. Truncation - Always right truncation.

Keywords search these fields:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Subject headings
  • Content notes - which includes titles of short stories, songs, and other useful information.

Quick Tips

  • When searching a title, the word "and" is the same as "&".
  • Capitalization does not matter.
  • Punctuation is ignored, i.e. U.S.A. is treated the same as USA.
  • When searching for an author, use last name, then first name.


  • AND is automatically added between all words, just like searching the internet.
  • Example: hotels Chicago. This searches every occurrence of both words.
  • To search a phrase, add quotation marks.
  • Phrase search "United States Supreme Count"


  • This will omit specific words and can be very helpful.
  • Example: mouse and not computer will return the animal, not a computer "mouse"


  • This specifies multiple words in any field.
  • Example: clothing or apparel will return either term.
  • Note: this search is helpful when you are not certain which term is used.



  • Words may be right-hand truncated using an asterisk.
  • Use a single asterisk * to truncate from 1 to 5 characters.
  • Use a double asterisk ** for open ended truncation.
  • Example: environment* would return environment as well as environmental.
  • You may also use a question mark ('?') to replace a single character anywhere within a word, such as wom?n.   


  • Use within # to specify the # of words that you want to separate the search terms.
  • Example: America within 3 economy would return records that had the word "America" listed within 3 words of "economy"
  • Use near to specify words close to each other in any order. Note, that this is the same as within 10.
  • Example: California near art* will return records that have California listed near art or artists.

Advanced Search

  • The Advanced Search page is actually quite simple and allows you to enter multiple search terms in the boxes.
  • This is helpful when you want to link terms together.
  • Note the pull down menu on the right - you can choose AND, AND NOT, OR, NEAR.
  • It is especially helpful when searching for specific languages or material types.


Finding Media in the Classic Catalog

  • Click on the Advanced Keyword Search link under More Searches pull-down menu.
  • Type in your search terms and scroll down.
  • Note that you can link phrases together using quotes, ex: "Italian cooking".
  • From the Material Type drop-down menu, click on the down arrow and select the desired format.
  • Click on the submit button.
  • Example: to find Harry Potter DVDs, type in Harry Potter in the search box and under material type, choose DVD. This will return all of the Harry Potter DVDs.

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